David Cameron supports Ed Miliband in row over Daily Mail article on father
British Labour Party leader said it was a lie to assert that Marxist academic Ralph Miliband ‘hated Britain’
Ed Miliband: “It’s perfectly legitimate for the Daily Mail to talk about my father’s politics but when they say that he hated Britain I was not willing to put up with that.” Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
The Daily Mail said it stood by “every word” of its essay on Mr Miliband’s father, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee and served in the Royal Navy during the second World War before becoming a proponent of what the newspaper called “one of the world’s most poisonous political doctrines”.
Mr Miliband was given the right to reply after the article was published on Saturday, but his defence of his father was accompanied by the reprinted essay and a leader column explaining why the paper was standing its ground.
In an interview with the BBC Mr Miliband said: “It’s perfectly legitimate for the Daily Mail to talk about my father’s politics, but when they say that he hated Britain I was not willing to put up with that because my father loved Britain, my father served in the Royal Navy, he was a refugee who came here and found security in this country.
“He took great comfort from what this country offered him and I’m speaking out as a son. I was appalled when I read the Daily Mail on Saturday and saw them saying that he hated Britain. It’s a lie.
“I’m even more appalled that they repeated that lie today and have gone further and described my father’s legacy as ‘evil’. Evil is a word reserved for particular cases and I was not willing to let that stand.” He said he was “not willing to let my father’s good name be besmirched and undermined”.
The prime minister told 5 News he would have reacted in the same way as the Labour leader, although he stressed he had not seen the article.
Asked if politicians’ families should be off limits to the press he said: “It is a difficult area. Politicians have to think about how much we reveal ourselves. I think journalists and broadcasters have to think about how deeply they dig into our lives.”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg wrote on Twitter: “Politics should be about playing the ball, not the man, certainly not the man’s family.”
The Press Complaints Commission said it had received more than 30 complaints about the article, although none were from Labour or the Miliband family. – (PA)